A Hong Kong cyber crime research centre has flagged the need to step up resources and efforts as, with an average of 7 million hacking attempts daily worldwide, Hong Kong, a global financial centre, is certainly a target. Frank Tong Fuk-kay, chief executive of the government-funded Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), said Hong Kong and the rest of the world were at “serious risk”. Last week, ASTRI warned that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and People’s Bank of China were among a long list of central banks hacking group Anonymous identified as top targets in May. Hacking your account: Still as easy as ‘123456’ Tong said the research institute and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority would join forces to set standards to qualify cyber experts in Hong Kong in a bid to increase talents supply. “More resources are needed in ensuring cyber security if Hong Kong keeps up its position as the global financial centre,” he told the Post in an exclusive interview on Friday. “[Hong Kong] needs to train its own experts. Even some banks have a chief technology officer on director boards, which shows how important cyber security is.” China, US anti-hacking group holds first talks since September pact Tong spoke ahead of a cyber security summit organised by ASTRI and Hong Kong Police Force from Monday to Wednesday, which draws cyber experts from Interpol and countries like the United States, Australia, Ireland, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong to share the latest trends and intelligence. The widespread use of financial technology, or “fintech”, on banks, stock brokerages, insurance companies, public utilities, airlines, public transport service provides and hospitals, for example, involve large amounts of personal data and could fall prey to hackers. Duncan Wong, ASTRI’s director, security and data sciences, cited statistics from Norse, a cyber threat intelligence network service provider, that on average there are 7 million hacking attempts worldwide a day varying from web page hacking, individual machine infection through malware, to critical infrastructure attacking. UK police arrest man over mass hacking of Hong Kong toy maker VTech These activities are for financial gain, political reasons, or just for the sake of hacking, he said. Financial losses arising from cyber crime in Hong Kong jumped about 51 per cent to HK$1.82 billion last year while the number of cases were up 1.2 per cent to 6,778 cases, police statistics showed. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said there are 11 million online banking accounts in the city, which generated 17 million transactions worth HK$7.3 trillion on an monthly average last year. ASTRI, which was set up in 2000 and develops applied research for industries to raise the city’s competitiveness, has about 500 staff. But Tong said every year there were about 100 staff, or one in every five, leaving for the private sector, underlying how chronic the demand is for cyber experts. He said Hong Kong needed a bigger talent supply. To the contrary, Singapore’s state-owned research body - Agency for Science, Technology and Research, has 6,000 staff. VTech’s hacking and a Hong Kong culture which pays little attention to IT security Tong said a key task for ASTRI is exchanging intelligence with law enforcement bodies and regulators such as the police, the Monetary Authority, Securities and Futures Commission and even Interpol. “One of the difficulties is hackers will not tell you where they are and who they are,” he said. “But what we can do is our team can trace which vendors of printers and routers are hacked and we will alert the vendors and users right away.” At ASTRI’s headquarters at Hong Kong Science Park in Sha Tin, there is a training centre called ‘cyber range,’ which has an electronic world map displaying locations of instant hacking attempts. At Friday noon, the billboard showed China was the top origin of hacking attempts with the United Arab Emirates and the United States as top targets. Hacking of Hong Kong's VTech may prove worst cybersecurity breach of 2015 in Asia Wong said it did not necessarily mean the hackers were located in China even though it was shown as the hacking origin. Although it was hard to tell how many were successfully hacked, there were serious breaches and cyber incidents every single day, he said. And those hacking attempts could be correlated to each other, he added.